A NEW law has been unveiled that could require autonomous trucks to have a driver behind the wheel.
The California Senate passed a bill on Monday that would require human drivers to drive autonomous trucks on state highways for at least the next five years.
The bill came after lawmakers identified traffic safety concerns, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On the other hand, the governor’s office is reportedly concerned about innovation.
Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it is up to California Governor Gavin Newsom to make the final decision on whether the new law will go into effect.
The California Governor’s Office of Economic Development wrote a letter to the bill’s sponsor, arguing that passage of the bill would harm the state’s competitiveness, limit innovation in the supply chain and undermine existing oversight.
This means it is likely to be vetoed.
If passed, driverless trucks weighing 10,000 to 80,000 pounds would be required to have human drivers behind the wheel.
Although it says it would remain in effect for five years, advocates say lawmakers could repeal that requirement sooner if they are reasonably confident about vehicle safety.
“There is a reason why local elected and public safety officials, local firefighters and police officers, and the state’s highway patrol officers support AB 316,” said Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.
“You and we want a collaborative, truly public process between the Legislature, local officials and the executive branch to make these decisions that impact the safety of millions of California travelers and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
There were two “no” votes from members of the Senate.
One of the bill’s opponents, Steve Glazer, said requiring human drivers in experimental robot trucks was tantamount to requiring humans to use typewriters.
Opponents say the issue is really about job losses, and while those supporting the bill say that’s also a concern, it’s mostly about making sure giant semi-trucks are safe can drive on state highways.
The issue was brought to the forefront after San Francisco law enforcement and emergency departments complained that driverless taxis were constantly impeding first responders and their vehicles.
Since the Newsom administration allowed Tesla to test its driverless car technology on public roads, the DMV has been conducting an investigation.
It is investigating whether the company is violating DMV laws that prevent companies from marketing driverless technology if the agency does not allow full autonomous driving.
The investigation has been ongoing for two and a half years.